Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is what you’d get if you took two hours of JRPG cutscenes and edited them into a movie: It’s oddly paced, confusing, and full of corny dialogue. It’s also surprisingly fun to watch.
When I say Kingsglaive is beautiful, what I really mean is gorgeous. This theatrical accompaniment to the FFXV game positively drips with mouthwatering detail. Every pristine office building and every tiny blade of grass are brought to life through a spectrum of vibrant colour, filtered through spectacular textural detail and excellent lighting and shadow effects. It’s so hyper-realistic there were times I actually forgot I was watching an animated movie.
The character designs shine equally bright. Every freckle, every droplet of sweat, every strand of perfectly gel-swept hair, and every silver boot buckle looks fantastic. The only time I remembered these characters weren’t real was when they hazily stared into the distance, their eyes devoid of emotion. Perhaps they were busy trying to puzzle out the movie’s overwritten plot.
The only thing preventing the over-inflated plot from escaping into the stratosphere is the solid voice work. I was nervous when Square Enix announced a parade of top-of-the-marquee names for the English dub, since on-camera actors tend to struggle in the voice booth. I was also worried that every time I heard Luna and Nyx converse, it would sound like Queen Cersei from Game of Thrones discussing politics with Jesse from Breaking Bad. It turns out I had nothing to worry about. Both actors breathe life into their respective roles by using the right combination of energy and emotion.
Kingsglaive, an animated flick that runs around an hour and 45 minutes, is a direct prequel to Final Fantasy XV. It introduces the world and sets up many of the conflicts that will presumably be resolved when the game comes out in November.
The explosive, adrenaline-fueled action sequences that accompany Nyx and Luna everywhere they go are fun to watch, but the political intrigue woven between them is not. There are too many characters doing too much with too little explanation. I understand some of the ambiguity is meant to nudge the audience into playing the game so they can learn the whole story, but the byproduct is a movie that feels scrambled and unfocused.
As a standalone movie, Kingsglaive is kind of a mess. Most of the plot threads are left unresolved, evoking feelings of a TV season premiere rather than a fully realised story, and it’s never quite clear what people want or why the bad guys are attacking. But as an introduction to the lore of Final Fantasy XV, one that sets the stage for Noctis’s epic road trip and offers a cursory look at some of the characters that he may meet along the way, Kingsglaive is a lovely little film, one I’m glad Square produced. If you know you’re gonna play FFXV, you should watch it.